Gonsolin makes pitch for rotation spot for Dodgers vs. Angels


After an onslaught of home runs on Friday night, the Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers will try to continue the show again Saturday as the regular season nears its end.

The Angels hit three home runs in the area battle, while the Dodgers hit five. It was hardly expected with a pair of proven left-handers in Andrew Heaney for the Angels and Clayton Kershaw starting in the series opener.

Now tasked with slowing all of those hot bats after the Dodgers’ 9-5 victory are a pair of right-handers in the Angels’ Dylan Bundy (6-3, 3.29 ERA) and the Dodgers’ Tony Gonsolin (1-2, 1.77).

The Angels will enter the game after being officially eliminated from playoff contention with Friday’s loss.

Bundy has been the Angels’ best starter all season, but he has started to slip of late with a 4.91 ERA this month. He will enter off an outing against the Texas Rangers on Monday when he gave up three runs on five hits over five innings as the Angels earned an 8-5 victory.

But he was improved from an outing on Sept. 16 when he gave up a season-high six runs (five earned) against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Bundy has two career appearances against the Dodgers (one start) and is 0-1 with a 2.25 ERA. The start came last season as a member of the Baltimore Orioles when he pitched well (two earned runs over 5 2/3 innings) but took the loss.

Overall, the Angels’ pitching staff was disappointing for yet another season with a staff-wide 5.05 ERA, but new manager Joe Maddon saw hope. He tends to be optimistic like that.

“There’s shining lights out there,” Maddon said. “There are parts of it. We weren’t able to recover in a shortened season. It’s the end of the year. I get it. But it’s two months. You normally have time to correct things, and now we don’t.”

The Dodgers do like what they see in Gonsolin, so much so that he could be the third starter when the playoffs start next week, behind both Kershaw and Walker Buehler. For now, those are the only two playoff starters named by manager Dave Roberts.

Gonsolin didn’t even get a regular spot in the rotation until Ross Stripling was moved to the Toronto Blue Jays at the trade deadline. In seven starts this season, he has not given up more than two runs. Since Stripling was traded, he has a 2.74 ERA in 23 innings, while opponents are hitting .190 against him. He has never faced the Angels.

Other options to start in the playoffs are left-hander Julio Urias and right-hander Dustin May.

“You look at Julio and Tony, they are more neutral, as far as their splits, where Dustin is more dominant against right and not as dominant against left,” Roberts said. “The opponent certainly matters, because they’ve all shown they can pitch out of the ‘pen.

“The truth of the matter is you have one spot for three guys that are more than capable in that first round. We’ve got a tough and good decision to make.”

The Dodgers will enter having won eight of their last 10 games. At 41-17, they will finish the regular season with the best record in baseball thanks to Friday’s victory. The Angels are 26-32.

–Field Level Media

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